NEW YORK -- As Terry Francona answered his post-game questions late in the afternoon, there was no denying the unmistakable din coming from a few dozen feet down the tunnel that leads from the visitor's clubhouse to the Yankee Stadium playing field.
There, blaring away for the fifth straight time since the Yankees had just dispatched the Red Sox, 4-2, on Sunday, was Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York.'' When it ended for the fifth time, they cranked it up a sixth time.
It's become known as the Yankee Stadium victory song, played each time the Bronx Bombers win a home game. It has also come to symbolize a losing effort for the visitor.
"I've maybe heard that song more than almost anyone on our team,'' catcher Jason Varitek said. "But it's not like walking off the field knowing you can't play another game. It's not like after we lost to Tampa last year in Game 7, knowing we didn't have another game left to play. Honestly? I love playing (the Yankees). It's what baseball is all about.''
A few Red Sox players mulled inside the dugout watching the Yankees celebrate on the field. This was New York's 100th victory and it assured them of being the American League East champions. At the same time, it means the Red Sox can only reach the postseason as a wild card.
But with Texas' loss on Sunday, Boston's magic number to reach the playoffs for the fifth time in six years under Francona is down to two. Meaning Boston could clinch on Monday, but only with a win over Toronto and another Texas loss. But the Rangers play in Anaheim and their game won't start until after 10 p.m. in Boston. Whether the Sox will splash champagne at around 1 a.m. is unknown.
"They played better than we did, that's all,'' said Dustin Pedroia, who was one of the Red Sox who lingered in the dugout afterward. "I wasn't really watching them. I always sit in the dugout after any loss. It's normal for me.''
David Ortiz, who has been a part of plenty of Red Sox-Yankees games, also sat in the dugout watching the spectacle on the field as the AL East Championship T-shirts and caps were slipped on, could only remember one other time of watching the Yankees celebrate at the expense of the Red Sox and that was the famous Aaron Boone extra-inning home run that ended Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
"We haven't lost anything yet,'' Ortiz said. "Hopefully we will see them again.''
STREAK ENDS:Victor Martinez's 25-game hitting streak came to an end when he was called on to pinch-hit for Jason Varitek in the ninth inning on Sunday. But it didn't end without some controversy. Martinez grounded a ball between first baseman Mark Teixeira and second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano reached the ball but lost the grip on the ball as he attempted to pirouette and make a throw to first base. It was officially ruled an error on Cano, but Varitek took exception with the call afterward.
"He would have had to make a perfect twirl and throw to have gotten Vic,'' Varitek said. "I really don't think he could have done it, especially since the ball slipped out of his hand, showing how tough the play would have been. Plus, a run didn't score. No one would have been hurt by giving Vic a single there. I don't think it was not the right call.''
Martinez was one hit away from tying Buck Freeman, Johnny Pesky and Nomar Garciaparra for the eighth longest hitting streak in Sox history. Dom DiMaggio's 34-game streak in 1949 is the club's all-time record. Ichiro Suzuki's 27-game hitting streak in May and June is the longest in the American League this season. Martinez does hold one distinction. His 25-game streak is the longest ever by a player born in Venezuela, eclipsing the record held by legendary Venezuelan shortstop Chico Carrasquel with the 1950 Chicago White Sox.
ESPN's Pedro Gomez covered the Oakland A's from 1992 to 1997 and then became the national baseball writer and later a general columnist at The Arizona Republic before becoming an ESPN bureau reporter in 2003.